In the first ever legal effort to challenge election results in multiple jurisdictions for a Presidential contest in the United States, ECBA is representing Jill Stein and her campaign in election integrity efforts and attempts to obtain recounts in three states: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Stein filed petitions for recount in Michigan and Wisconsin, and mobilized voters to seek recounts in Pennsylvania. ECBA has litigated various state and federal actions to pursue those recount requests. The most recent information and filings concerning the rapidly-changing developments in the three states are available here for Pennsylvania, here for Michigan, and here for Wisconsin.
The City of New York has agreed to pay $6 million to Derrick Deacon, a man who spent over twenty years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Mr. Deacon was initially convicted in 1989 as the result of egregious misconduct by law enforcement and prosecutors. After new evidence came to light showing that Mr. Deacon was not the perpetrator, he was granted a retrial and acquitted in minutes. This suit, filed after his acquittal, challenged the official misconduct used to initially convict Mr. Deacon. The New York Daily News covered the settlement here.
The Legal Aid Society Prisoners’ Rights Project and Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady announced a settlement in the case of Bradley Ballard, whose horrific death at Rikers Island in 2013 was ruled a homicide. The settlement of $5,750,000 is the largest ever entered into by New York City for a death in custody.
Mr. Ballard, 39, was a seriously mentally ill and diabetic man who died in 2013 due to the abuse and cruelty of Department of Correction staff and the medical providers on Rikers Island. From the moment Mr. Ballard arrived at Rikers, on a parole violation for failing to change a report of address, his serious medical and mental health needs were mishandled by the City’s health care contractor at the time, Corizon Health, Inc. The abuse took a macabre turn when Department of Correction staff illegally shut him in his cell as a rogue punishment for perceived rudeness, leaving him to decompensate without medication or treatment for his schizophrenia and diabetes. For seven days, until Mr. Ballard died on September 11, 2013, correction and medical staff walked by the locked cell without offering assistance, turned off the water to his cell, and ignored his obvious and fatally deteriorating state until it was too late.
Mr. Ballard’s death was unusual in its gruesomeness, and his suffering was unmatched as reflected by the historic settlement. But the torture he endured resulted from longstanding and known system failures that have plagued Rikers healthcare and supervision of medical and correction staff. In 2015, Corizon’s contract for healthcare was finally cancelled, though many of the correction staff who so woefully failed in their duties remain in the jails. Mr. Ballard’s family can only hope that the City can usher in a new era of basic humanity and competence at Rikers. They hope that the settlement will spark a rigorous review of the cascade of failures and misconduct that caused Mr. Bradley’s premature and painful death. No other patient, and no family, should have to endure their suffering.
Five bi-partisan, high-profile public relations firms, represented by Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady and the Center for Competitive Politics, filed a federal lawsuit to block a new rule adopted by the New York’s State Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Under the new rule, every time the public relations firms speak with an editorial board, reporter or other member of the media about any pending, proposed, or ongoing legislation or other government action, they would be required to register with the state and disclose the subject of their communications and extensive details about their businesses and their clients. The rule is unprecedented and unworkable in its expansiveness and, as the plaintiffs’ brief says, “directly inhibits and chills the rights of public relations firms and their clients to participate in discussions of public matters with and in the press, to serve as anonymous sources to the press, and to exercise their core speech and associational rights free from government inspection or the threat of prosecution or sanction.”
ECBA recently succeeded on a motion to disqualify plaintiffs’ co-counsel in a pending litigation in New York Supreme Court. Retained as special ethics counsel on the disqualification motion, ECBA was able to convince the Court to disqualify the firm because one of its associates had previously represented defendants in the same matter, and had obtained material client confidences, before he moved laterally to the plaintiffs’ firm.
The family of K.C., a 22-year-old severely disabled man, settled a federal lawsuit in Albany against staff at the O.D. Heck Developmental Center, a New York State facility for the disabled. The lawsuit centered on the physical and verbal abuse K.C. suffered at the hands of the staff members. The abuse was first revealed by a whistleblower, who described K.C.’s horrific treatment in a sworn deposition. K.C. died in early 2011, after he was found to be severely malnourished. The family was represented by ECBA attorneys Ilann M. Maazel and Hayley Horowitz.
To read the New York Times coverage of the case, click here. To read the press release, click here.
ECBA, together with the Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project (“PRP”) filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Beverly Ann Griffin, the mother of Bradley Ballard, a 39-year-old man suffering from schizophrenia and diabetes, who died on Rikers Island last year after he was improperly placed in solitary confinement and then inexplicably denied food, water, his medication, and other medical and mental health care for seven days. The City Medical Examiner ruled Mr. Ballard’s death a homicide. The lawsuit names as defendants the City of New York; several current and former high-ranking Department of Correction Officials; Corizon, the private corporation responsible for health care at Rikers Island; and the health care and correction workers responsible for Mr. Ballard’s care during the period of neglect. In an emotional press conference, Ms. Griffin told the City, “You are there to correct the inmate, not to destroy him.” Ms. Griffin is represented by ECBA’s Jonathan S. Abady and Hayley Horowitz, along with PRP’s Jonathan Chasan and Mary Lynne Werlwas.
To read the Complaint, click here. To read the New York Times’ story on this case, click here. The New York Daily News covered Mr. Ballard’s case and the City’s refusal to defend Corizon here.
Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, together with the New York Legal Assistance Group, filed a class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York on behalf of thousands of current and former students of ASA College, Inc., a privately owned, for-profit career college based in New York City. The complaint, filed against ASA and a number of its officers, alleges that ASA’s students have been victimized by a large-scale scheme to obtain millions of dollars of federal and state financial aid by misrepresenting ASA’s certificate and degree programs to prospective and enrolled students, to federal and state governmental agencies, and to accrediting agencies. ASA lures students with promises that its programs will provide training, externships, and job placement services, and that ASA graduates have a proven track record of obtaining jobs in their fields of study. None of this has proven true. More than half of ASA’s students drop out within two semesters, and among those who do finish, few find jobs in their fields of study. As a result of ASA’s fraud, ASA procures access to student loans to fund ASA’s exorbitant tuition, leaving students with debts they cannot repay. The plaintiff s are represented by ECBA attorneys Matthew D. Brinckerhoff and Hayley Horowitz, along with attorneys from NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit.
To read the complaint, click here. To read the press release, click here.